However, it being January, I have restarted my January Bible Readthrough using the Amplified Bible and once again, I am enthralled, shocked and amazed at the love story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel (and in that order) found in Genesis 29-30.
On the way Jacob has an out of body, dreamy experience, a confrontation with God and angels, that starts a big change in his spiritual life. He names the place Bethel (the house of God) and promises to tithe from that moment on.
I can't say it took that kind of experience to get me to start tithing, but it would have been nice, ladder and all.
After this experience, Genesis 29:1 in the Amplified Bible begins: "Then Jacob went (briskly and cheerfully) on his way (400 miles) and came to the land of the people of the East." --So we have a concrete idea what kind of energy experiences like Jacob's can give a person on a quest. Bring them on!
Of course, Jacob is looking for his Uncle Laban's family and after the 400 miles he has a piece of luck at a well. He discovers Uncle Laban's lovely daughter Rachel coming to water her father's sheep. He helps her and afterwards, the Bible says so succinctly: "Then Jacob kissed Rachel and he wept aloud." Talk about love at first sight! This sentence brings tears to my eyes. Maybe part of it is for the 400 miles and finding a well of water.
You know this story. Jacob agrees to work seven years for Rachel and the Bible stays "they seemed to him a few days." Does ANY body love like this today? Including Matthew and all the many loves of Mary and everyone upstairs and downstairs at the Abbey?
On Jacob's and Rachel's supposed wedding night (after heavy drinking most surely) weak-eyed older sister Leah is slipped into the marriage bed instead of Rachel by their father Laban. (Doesn't this scene far surpass the scene in Downton Abbey when the Turk slips into Mary's bed???)
Right now I want to tell you, I am on Leah's side. It's kind of like for the first 25 years of my adult life I was on Scarlet's side every time I watched Gone with the Wind. But, finally, I realized the kind of skunk Scarlet really was and I started being on Melody's side (and I will always be on Rhett's side, OF COURSE).
Jacob finally gets Rachel but God takes note of dear Leah who has had no choice in this matter (but I know she LOVES that hunk Jacob and he must feel something for her . . . . I mean, a bunch of sons keep coming.
Here they are and their names heartsick but forever positive Leah gives them:
- Reuben which means "See, a son." Are you looking, Jacob?
- Simeon: God hears. "The Lord heard that I am despised."
- Levi: Companion. "Now my husband will be a companion to me for I have borne him three sons."
- Judah: Praise. "Now I will praise the Lord."
Then more shocking things happen. Both Rachel and Leah give their MAIDS to Jacob and ASK him to sleep with them (what kind of man is he??) As far as that goes, what kind of women are they?
So both the maids deliver babies supposedly on the knees of Rachel and Leah so they can count them as their own. Double Wow! What an easy way to get a child is all I can say. My son took 12 hours off my life at the gate of death birthing him.
This story goes on and on for several seasons of Jacob's life and Leah's and Rachel's but I want to jump you to the surprising end and a question that might plague the casual reader of this true story.
WHICH woman, Rachel or Leah, did he request to be buried beside?
Here are some of Jacob's last words on his death bed in Egypt, his instructions to Joseph about death and burial. (Genesis 49:29-31)
"He charged them and said to them, I am to be gathered to my people, bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite . . . and there I buried Leah."
There you go.
Downton Abbey is good, but this true story is better and a lot more inspiring.
What do you think?
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Happy, Blessed New Year and Onward!
Elva Cobb Martin